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Iraqi forces free IS-held area in western Mosul



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Mosul, May 16: Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State militants liberated on Monday a neighbourhood from the group after heavy clashes in the northern part of western side of Mosul, the Iraqi military said.

The special forces of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) freed al-Uraybi neighbourhood and raised the Iraqi flag over some of its buildings after killing many IS militants, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

The recapture of the neighbourhood came a day after the CTS forces, army and the elite forces of the federal police, known as Rapid Response, initiated a new push into four neighbourhoods, including Uraybi, and managed to defeat the IS defensive lines after fierce street-to-street clashes.

The troops are still engaged in heavy fighting in the other three neighbourhoods of Rifai, Iqtisadiyn and July 17 after they seized parts of them.

The troops are now pushing to seize the remaining neighbourhoods in north and northwest of the city centre to tighten noose around the IS redoubt in the neighbourhoods of the old city centre in the western side of Mosul, including old areas around the historical al-Nuri Mosque.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi jet fighters carried out an airstrike on a village near the IS-held town of Tal Afar and destroyed three IS vehicles carrying rocket launchers, leaving 12 of them killed, the JOC said in a statement citing intelligence reports.

Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, has been under the IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions.



Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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Middle East

Loud explosion heard outside busy hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

Explosion hits busy road outside popular hotel in central Mogadishu.



Somalia Car Bombing

MOGADISHU: 16 people killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of  Wehliye hotel in Mogadishu. Most of the casualties are auto rickshaw drivers and passengers, according to witnesses.

The death toll is expected to rise.

The attacked was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group’s military operation spokesman.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government, is frequently carrying out attacks in and around the capital.

More to follow.

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Twitter’s chief information security officer quits




San Francisco, March 22: As tech companies reel under mounting pressure to prevent their platforms from data breach and fake news, Twitter’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Coates has decided to quit.

In a tweet on Thursday, Coates who joined Twitter in 2015 announced his departure from the micro-blogging website.

“Twitter has been an amazing ride, but as I mentioned internally a few weeks back, my time is coming to an end. I’m confident to leave the program with an amazing security team,” Coates tweeted.

According to The Verge, Coates’ interim replacement is Joseph Camilleri, a senior manager for information security and risk.

Coates’ departure comes soon after reports surfaced that Facebook’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos is planning to leave the company by August.

Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million Facebook users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.

Meanwhile, Michael Zalewski, Director of Information Security Engineering at Google, has also announced his departure from that company after 11 years.


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